By Nancy Black
The Beatles were wrong. I adore the iconic musical group but when they sang, “Love is all you need,” they did not quite get it right. Yes, in my humble opinion, love is the most important feeling all living beings can experience. But it is not all we need.
Sometimes we need help. Saying “I need help” out loud to another person is one of the hardest phrases to ever utter. Trust me. I’ve said them. It took me a while, but once I got those three little words out of my mouth, my life changed for the better.
I wish my friend who died by suicide this past week had said those words to someone. Those who knew her were aware of her ongoing struggles with alcohol. She had been in and out of rehab facilities for years. But when her family saw her on Christmas Day, she seemed fine — and sober — even happy, and she knew she was loved. Two days later she ended her life.
Severe depression with thoughts of suicide is different from feeling blue every now and then. The brain of a clinically depressed person works differently from the brain of a person who is not depressed. I know this because I threw myself into Google, researching everything I could about suicide and why people make that desperate, irreversible decision. My friend isn’t the first person I know who has died by suicide. But I sure wish she would be the last.
I believe we, as a society, need to invest more into the health and well-being of all our citizens. And I was pleased to discover our country’s political leaders agree.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:
“The Biden-Harris administration has increased federal investments 18-fold (from $24M to $432M) for this national priority. Congress has provided the Department of Health and Human Services workforce funding through the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Also, the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request provides additional funding for the  Lifeline itself and for other existing federal crisis funding sources.”
The new, three-digit number to call when in crisis — 988 — was implemented in 2022 and seems to be working. “Numerous studies have shown that most Lifeline callers are significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking to a Lifeline crisis counselor. Almost 98 percent of people who call, chat or text the 988 Lifeline get the crisis support they need and do not require additional services in that moment. The 988 Lifeline crisis counselors are trained to help reduce the intensity of a situation for the person seeking help, and connect them to additional local resources, as needed, to support their wellbeing.”
Strengthening and expanding the 988 Lifeline network will help build a crisis response system that can link people in crisis to local providers who can offer continued care services.
I can’t do anything to bring my friend back. I wish I could. But I can write about the dangers of depression and reality of suicide in the hope my words will bring more awareness to the very real problem of mental illness. If you are in crisis or contemplating suicide, PLEASE tell someone. Say, “I need help!” Call 988. Reach out! You are loved AND help is available.